removing the stumbling blocks

October 2015 (20)Mark 9:43-48

43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to Gehenna, to the unquenchable fire. 44[1] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into Gehenna. 46[2] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

removing the stumbling blocks

Context is absolutely essential to understand Jesus’ point here. He had just warned his disciples not to put a stumbling block in the way of any of the little ones who also believe in him.[3] Those little ones were disciples who were not part of the twelve, but were also doing ministry in Jesus’ name. Jesus strongly encouraged his disciples not to do anything that would discourage those other disciples from their faith and obedience. He taught them not to be stumbling blocks.

Then, Jesus turns the subject. He tells his disciples not to allow anything, even anything as essential as a hand, a foot or an eye – to cause themselves to stumble. Remove the stumbling blocks. It would be better to enter resurrection life without them, than to go to Gehenna’s death intact. Why, because Gehenna’s fire and worm destroy utterly, and nothing can stop them. Jesus’ advice to engage in self-destruction was never intended to be literal. The foot and eye stood for the relationship or idea that would serve as a stumbling block. Anyone or anything that would turn you away from believing and serving Jesus must be removed. Your life depends on it.

LORD, we ask for insight, so that we can identify those ideas and relationships which are tempting us to reject you and your word. We ask for courage to remove those stumbling blocks from our lives.


[1] some manuscripts add οπου ο σκωληξ αυτων ου τελευτα και το πυρ ου σβεννυται. The text is found in verse 48, and it refers to the promise in Isaiah 66:24 that the dead bodies of God’s enemies will suffer complete disintegration and destruction.

[2] some manuscripts add οπου ο σκωληξ αυτων ου τελευτα και το πυρ ου σβεννυται. The text is found in verse 48, and it refers to the promise in Isaiah 66:24 that the dead bodies of God’s enemies will suffer complete disintegration and destruction.

[3] 9:42.

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About Jefferson Vann

Jeff is a Christian missionary.
This entry was posted in consideration of others, kingdom of God, temptation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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